convenience stores

Asses of love: 7-Eleven’s heart-shaped treats give new meaning to term “steamed buns”

Walk into any Japanese convenience store during the colder part of the year, and along with such welcome refreshments as heated cans of coffee and bottles of tea you’ll find a case of steamed buns. The orthodox version is stuffed with minced pork and vegetables, but curry and pizza sauce steamed buns are pretty easy to find, too.

Some convenience stores even offer sweet varieties, like 7-Eleven is doing now with its chocolate cream steamed buns. Since they’ve been released just in time for Valentine ’s Day, they’re even shaped like little pink hearts. Or, that was the plan at least, but to some people, they look more like little pink butts.

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From San-X to Attack on Titan, yummy cake rolls take over Bean-Throwing Festival’s sushi custom

Before you start obsessing over Valentine’s Day plans, let’s turn for a moment to another February whoop-de-do: the Japanese Bean-Throwing Festival or Setsubun. Celebrated on February 3 this year, it’s an intriguing blend of evil ogres and spirits, roasted soybeans, and chomping on a whole baton of thickly rolled sushi while facing in the proper direction. These somewhat disparate ingredients commingle on this day to assure good fortune and health for the year to come.

In recent years, western Japan’s custom of eating a special type of sushi called ehō-maki (恵方巻き, literally “blessed direction roll”) for Setsubun has spread across the nation due to marketing campaigns by grocery and convenience stores; what’s more, the sushi rolls have been evolving into scrumptious cream-filled Swiss rolls! Iconoclastic? Maybe. Delicious? Yes!

So let’s jump on the bandwagon and look into this holiday a bit before drooling over this collection of sushi and their sweet doppelgängers. And Yowapeda fans, I think I spy a Makishima-maki!

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Japanese convenience store FamilyMart inadvertently gives away pearl in pack of seafood snacks

In a lot of ways, convenience stores in Japan are more like miniature supermarkets. So while they still sell a lot of the candy and canned beverages their counterparts in other countries specialize in, you can also find plenty of edible, even gourmet-sounding food.

For example, the chain FamilyMart sells pouches of fried scallop meat, specifically the mantle, or part of the animal that attaches it to its shell. There’s a certain level of risk that comes with eating any mass-produced foodstuff, though, as one customer found out when he found what he felt was a foreign object in his pack of marine mollusks. And while generally the only thing you want to find in your food is, well, food, we suppose if we had to find something else mixed in there, we’d want what he discovered hiding in his snack: a pearl.

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Drinking sake just got more convenient with convenience store Family Mart’s new canned brews

Like with wine, there are variations in flavor between different types of Japanese sake. However, it can be kind of tough to pick up on the subtle differences unless you’re drinking them back to back. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for prices for anything other than the house sake at restaurants to start at about 800 yen (US $6.75), so putting together your own sampling set can get pricey.

But if you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to dip you toes in the wide, wonderful world of sake, convenience store Family Mart is here to help, with its new lineup of affordably priced canned sake.

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Looking for a job in Japan? Try a convenience store!

There are many “symbols of Japan”–from Mt. Fuji to Akihabara, the country has numerous faces to the outside world. But regardless of what comes to mind when you think of the country, there’s a good chance that you’ll stop by one of its many convenience stores on the way to your destination. In many ways, the army of small shops that squat on half the corners from Hokkaido to Okinawa are the perfect symbol of the country. But it looks like the convenience stores of Japan are now facing a serious problem: They can’t find enough employees!

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Japanese convenience store’s registers play Final Fantasy victory theme for special items 【Video】

Although video game developer Square Enix had dabbled in a few direct follow-ups here and there, whenever the counter for its Final Fantasy role-playing franchise rolls over to a new numbered sequel, the company completely ditches the old cast of heroes and villains, and even the previous game’s world.

But even if the narrative is starting from scratch each time, that doesn’t mean the games aren’t connected. For example, every Final Fantasy has scenes where the player rides on airships or horse-sized flightless birds called chocobos. The cursor is always a white glove with a pointing index finger, and major victories in battle are marked by the sounds of the series’ instantly recognizable “Victory Fanfare.”

Gamers have already heard the short but sweet melody played by the NES, Super NES, and PlayStations 1 through 3, and this month, they can look forward to hearing it someplace new: at the register of Lawson convenience stores when they purchase special items.

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Things to pick up at 7-Eleven: Milk, melon bread, Evangelion sports car

Last summer, we thought the heat might have been getting to the executives at 7-Eleven. Sure, offering two-meter (six-foot, seven-inch) tall Evangelion statues as special promotional prizes was a cool idea and all, but did they really expect anyone to pony up the 1,836,000 yen (US$16,000) they were asking for the 25 more giant figures they was selling outright?

Well, not only did all 25 of those Eva statues find homes, they sold out in just two minutes. Emboldened by that success, 7-Eleven has teamed up once again with the hit anime franchise to release the most expensive item the convenience store has ever sold: the Evangelion car.

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The top 10 instances when Japanese people feel thankful to be Japanese

Are there ever times when you feel really glad to have been born where you were? Maybe you’ve felt that way during a holiday, or while eating your favorite local food, but regardless, most of us have had those moments when we’re just plain thankful to be a citizen of a particular country.

Internet portal Mynavi Woman was curious to learn the specific situations and things that made Japanese people happy to be Japanese, and so in typical Mynavi fashion they opened up an internet survey in July to find out. Those results are finally in, and we’re happy to present to you the top 10 things that made Japanese respondents feel lucky to be nihonjin!

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Fans go crazy for 7-Eleven’s exclusive range of adorable Disney Princess umbrellas

From a genie in a bottle to a city at the bottom of the sea, if you’re a fan of Disney, then you’ll know the sweetest things can be found in the most unlikely places.

So it’s no surprise that Disney princess parasols are now waiting patiently for new owners down at the local 7-Eleven. On sale from the beginning of September, fans are heaping praise on the seven designs available and falling in love with all the gorgeous details from their favourite Disney films.

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Stray dogs head to convenience stores in Thailand, receive free rabies shots and flea care

If you’ve ever experienced an Asian summer, you’ll know how unbearably hot and humid it can be. In Thailand, where summer temperatures often stay above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees F) and can reach 100% humidity, keeping body temperatures down becomes a priority not only for people, but for our furry friends as well.

Clever canines know to beat the heat by hanging outside local convenience stores, where there’s shade, a cold surface to lie on, and best of all, a steady flow of traffic to open the automatic doors, releasing precious, steady gusts of cool, conditioned air. But there’s more…

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7-Eleven escalates anime goody arms race with gigantic Evangelion statue that could be yours

It’s no secret that there’s a lot of overlap between hardcore anime fans and frequent convenience store customers. With so many animated series to collect and watch, how are you supposed to find the time to cook, let alone the cash for a meal out at a fancy restaurant?

So in order to draw in as many otaku with the munchies as possible, Japan’s competing convenience store chains have been partnering up with hit anime series. So while Lawson is giving away dozens of different Attack on Titan goodies, 7-Eleven is countering with just one type of prize: a gigantic Evangelion figure.

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Super-enthusiastic convenience store clerk fights the man, continues serving the people

I’m not sure which is more surprising, the fact that Japan has convenience stores everywhere, or that every clerk working at them seems to be polite and attentive. Even with those high standards, though, occasionally you’ll come across a real standout employee, such as Family Mart’s Kato.

As we reported in June, Kato throws himself into his work with more energy and enthusiasm than any manager has a right to expect of front-line customer service workers. But while Kato’s unbridled passion for his job has made him something of a minor Internet celebrity, it’s also attracted the attention of Family Mart headquarters, which has asked the animated clerk to consider toning his act down.

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Japanese convenience stores set to somehow get even more awesome this year

Japanese convenience stores are – as we’ve spoken about before – so awesome that if they offered to let you sleep on a cot in the backroom, you could live in one for your whole life and basically never want for anything.

In addition to all the delicious junk food, the endlessly flowing booze, coffee and other drinks, the ready-made meals (that have a sort of “slithery” quality and are one of the few things in a convenience store you should stay away from), and various daily necessities odds and ends, you can also withdraw cash, buy tickets for soccer matches, concerts and events, make copies, print photos, and probably clone your pet or something.

But, starting in 2014, things are about to get even more awesome. Check out the things you’ll soon be able to do at your local combini!

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Japan’s convenience stores adapt to their traditional surroundings like cultural chameleons

When I lived in America, I bought something in a convenience store maybe once a month. There just wasn’t much I needed there, since the selection of beer was usually small and expensive, and no matter how hungry I was, letting my body break down its own tissues for sustenance was always a more appealing option than the greasy hot dogs and congealed nachos sold there.

In Japan, though, I can’t keep track of how often I stop into a 7-11 or Family Mart. The fact that most people do their shopping on foot means convenience stores here are more like miniature supermarkets, supplying basic groceries, tasty prepared foods, and other necessities.

Of course, the high demand for convenience stores in Japan means that sometimes they get built in areas of historical or cultural significance, in which case they have to be redesigned to fit in with the historical ambiance.

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FamilyMart cancels release of foie gras bento due to complaints over animal cruelty

Popular Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart has cancelled the release of a foie gras and beef patty bento ready meal due to customer complaints. While news of the cancellation will no doubt please animal rights supporters, some Japanese netizens have opposed the decision, arguing that the consumption of foie gras is no worse than the consumption of beef.

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